This gorgeous stretch of coastline south of Cancun is ideal for relaxation, adventure or both. Renowned for its talcum-white beaches and calm Caribbean water, the Riviera Maya offers an array of land-and-water activites and easy access tot he ancient Mayan cultural sites.
Stay: You'll feel good about booking into Casa de Las Olas, where the sustainable philosophy means you'll not only save money, but also help save the planet. The five-suite, beachfront eco resort in Tulum is powered by solar energy, has slightly salty water in the showers and a no-blow-dryer policy. But it doesn't skimp on comfort — there are four-poster beds and kitchenettes. There's no bar or restaurant, but with a rental car or scooter you can stock up at a local organic market and crate your own healthy feasts (room rates start at $180 a night; casadelasolas.com).
Photo courtesy of Casa de las Olas
Do: When not swimming or sunning, get to know the local flora and fauna (103 mammal species and 336 bird species) at the adjacent 1.3-million-acre Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, or explore Mayan culture at Tulum's archeological ruins.
Where to Eat: Tulum has become a healthy gourmet mecca (with prices to match), but for fresh seafood, simply prepared and affordable priced, try local favorite El Camello Jr. The fish tacos and ceviche garner the biggest raves.
Stay: Come nightfall, it's hard to imagine any place more romantic than the 63-room Maroma Resort & Spa, where flickering candles line pathways and dining nooks seclude couples beneath the moonlit sky. Perched on one of Riviera Maya's best beaches and featuring four restaurants and a spa, Maroma has a villa-hideaway vibe and superb service. Book an oceanfront one-bedroom suuite or master suite for a totally indulgent experience (room rates start at $575 a night; maromahotel.com)
Photo courtesy of Starwood Hotels
Do: Enjoy two hours of absolutely decadent relaxtion in Maroma's Kinan Spa during an aphrodisiac chocolate invigoration couples' treatment — and yes, there's mucho chocolate involved.
Where to Eat: After shopping along Playa Del Carmen's upscale Fifth Avenue, head to Yaxche for a journey into Mayan flavors. We love the moist corn tamales, cochinita pibil (shredded pork) and fish in a black Maya molé sauce.